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Chapter 9

How to get out of a pickle

“Has anyone seen Georg? We have  guests arriving this evening from Germany and they want to be sure that we have Rouladen on the menu and we are short on dill pickles. What is Rouladen without dill pickles?” Maria asked. Kurt, who was responsible for the menu for the lodge looked at Maria and rolled his eyes. “Why can’t we be entertaining some French guests? I spent 3 years in culinary school in France, but all I do is serve Rouladen and Spaetzle.” Kurt complained. “Kurt, we are an Austrian style lodge and we prepare meals that our guests expect from an Austrian lodge; you know that. If you are getting bored with our normal fare, then try and put your own spin on it.” Maria suggested. “Hey, that’s a good idea. I’ll do that!” Kurt replied as he started his team on their respective tasks.

cutting meat in the von trapp lodge kitchen

Just then Georg walked in, still deep in thought, but the bustling about in the kitchen quickly brought him back to the present. “Georg, you must go to town and get us more dill pickles for tonight’s dinner. We are almost out.” Maria complained. “Well, I will have to admit that I did help myself to them the other day. I have been having a craving for dill pickles lately.” Georg confessed. Maria looked at him with a twinkle in her eye and said, “My dear Georg, you aren’t even showing!” When Georg caught her joke, he chuckled to himself as he headed for the rear entrance of the kitchen to get in his trusty Willy. Maria always knew how to put him at ease and lighten his mood.

The market was only a 10 minute drive from the lodge. Mac’s Market was their answer to those last minute needs. Georg pulled into the parking lot and hopped out of the Willy. As he opened the door and entered the market, Mac, the owner was talking with a bag boy who was putting a half gallon of ice cream on top of a dozen eggs. “Josh, you can’t put ice cream on top of eggs!” he exclaimed. John looked at Mac puzzled, “But I thought you said to put all of the cold items in one bag.” he replied. “Correct, but unless you want scrambled eggs, the eggs have to be on top.” said Mac as he corrected his bag boy. “Oh hi Georg.” Mac said as Georg headed for the pickle aisle.

mac's market stowe vt

“Hey Mac, how are things in grocery land?” he asked. He knew that Mac would always have a witty comeback. “Eggscelent!” Mac replied with a grin.  Georg rolled his eyes. “Hey, I hear that you are having some special guests this evening Georg.” “Not really, just some guests from Germany. You know, they want a taste of home while in the states. How did you know anyway?” Georg inquired. “Well, one of the guests was in here yesterday asking questions about you.” Mac said while making sure his bag boy was paying attention to his bagging etiquette. “Really? Well they are probably just interested to know if Maria and I are still alive and kicking.” Georg said. “True, but this guy didn’t seem to be the tourist type. He was asking me if I knew anything about you before you came to Vermont, you know, right before the war. He also seemed a little out of place, like he had just gotten off the boat if you know what I mean.” Mac said while Georg found his prized bottles of dill pickles.  “No, I don’t know what you mean Mac. Like I said, I’m sure he’s just one of many of those that want a chance to meet us.” “Ok, you’re probably right Georg, but I did catch his name when I took his credit card and ran it through the credit card imprinter. I have it in my office. Maybe you know him.” Mac said while heading to his office. Georg headed to the cash register to pay for his chief ingredient of the infamous Rouladen dish. As Mac returned from his office he said, “It says right here, ‘Rolf Gruber, have you ever heard of him?” Georg dropped the bottle of pickles that he was holding onto the belt of the checkout aisle, almost breaking it. “Did you say Rolf Gruber?” Georg asked. “Yes, why?” Mac inquired. “How old would you say that this Rolf Gruber is?” Georg inquired. “Oh, I would say about 55 or so. Why, do you know this guy? ” Mac asked while watching Georg stand there frozen. “Yes, you can say that I do. I just wasn’t expecting to hear this while on my pickle run.” Georg said while collecting his change and heading out the door. “See you Georg.” Mac said while Georg walked slowly to the Willy. “This can’t be happening. Why would Rolf come all the way here? I am not feeling very good about this sudden burst of popularity. Entertaining fans from America is one thing, but to be the point of interest from Germans and these Germans in particular isn’t giving me a good feeling. He grabbed one of the bottles of pickles and opened it, just to sample one to make sure that they were ok. He took a bite of one of the crisp pickles and smiled as he remembered Maria’s teasing about his recent craving. “This is one pickle that I’m not sure how to get out of.” he said to himself while heading back to the lodge. Shaking his head, he tossed the rest of the pickle from the Willy out into the trees as he headed up the hill to the lodge.
two dill pickles

 

 

 

Miss something? Start at the beginning of the story.
Read Chapter 1
Read Chapter 2
Read Chapter 3
Read Chapter 4
Read Chapter 5
Read Chapter 6
Read Chapter 7
Read Chapter 8

Chapter 1

Daydreams aren’t always pleasant

“Put that down.”
“Not another move or I’ll shoot.”
“You’re only a boy. You don’t belong to them.”
“Stay where you are.”
“Come away with us. Before it’s too late.”
“Not another step. I’ll kill you.”
“You give that to me, Rolf. -Did you hear me?”
“I’ll kill you.”
A Nazi soldier holding a gun.
I moved closer to grab the gun. Bang! The Luger fired right as I was grabbing the barrel. The hot molten lead pierced my chest. It was as if someone had drained all of the energy out of me as I fell to my knees. “Georg! Maria screamed.” She came running from behind the fenced in crypt area.
“I didn’t mean to…..the gun just went off!” Rolf insisted.
Everything was getting darker and darker as I felt the blood running down my chest onto the cemetery floor. How could it end this way? We were so close to escaping the horrors that were descending upon Austria.

“Georg, I’m going into town. Do you need anything?” Maria said as she woke me from my afternoon slumber on the front porch of our Vermont home.  “No, I don’t believe so, thanks” I replied. As Maria left, I slowly came back to the present. This wasn’t the first time that I had this dream. I always woke up right after the feeling of life was leaving my body. I was getting tired of this dream, and now it seemed as though I was having this dream more often. It had been so many years since we left Austria, our home, our country and our way of life that we had known for so many years. We left Austria due to the Anschluss of the two countries and the Nazi occupation of Austria. We had never returned. Don’t ask me why. I had never even applied to become a citizen of our new home, the United States; my heart was still in Austria. Each year that passed, the more I longed to return to Austria if nothing else to see what had become of my beloved homeland since the war was long over. What happened to our home? How about the convent that my wife left? Did either of them survive that awful war? So many questions and very few answers.  It’s the answers that eluded me. I had plenty of questions. Time wasn’t on my side as I found it harder and harder to get around due to arthritis that had taken its toll on my body. I felt as though time was ticking away and my desire to return was becoming more of a recurring thought, just like this bad dream.

My phone rang, waking me from my daydreaming of Austria. “Hi, father,” Brigitta said on the other end of the phone. “We  were wondering if you and mother would be interested in coming over to our place Saturday night.” “I imagine we could. Is there a particular reason that you wanted us to come over?” I asked. “No, not really, John and I have both been discussing something, and we wanted to run it by you and mother.” “You aren’t thinking of moving to that retirement community in Florida that we visited with you last year are you?” I said thinking that was the reason for the invitation. “No, not at all. we want your opinion on something that we were going to do and wanted to see if you and mother would be interested as well.” “Oh well, ok, I will ask your mother when she returns. Love you.” I replied with relief. They had been talking about moving to Florida since both of them had retired earlier that year. They wanted to leave the cold winters of Vermont behind now that their kids were on their own. I couldn’t believe that my children had grandchildren. Where had time gone? I felt very blessed, though we had lost our beloved Liesl 3 years prior. That was a tough time for both Maria and me. I’m not sure that I would have recovered if it had not been the love and support of our other children. Maria and I were very fortunate to have such a close family. For many years we all toured the United States as the Trapp Family Singers until the children wanted to pursue their futures and not live in the shadows of another life that we once enjoyed. Our family lodge in Stowe was still going, although we had left the daily running of this to Kurt who was much younger than Maria and me. He was more than glad to answer the myriad of questions about the family.
A hotel in Austria.

Suddenly, I heard the top of the mailbox slam as the postman delivered his daily stack of junk mail with a few interspersed pieces of fan mail from those that had stayed at our lodge. I got up from the chair on the porch and walked around to where the mailbox was. With the advent of email, I wondered why people still bothered with mailing letters. It was probably due to the same reason that I went to the mailbox each day; a thing of habit. As I leafed through the mail, I tossed the junk mail in the wastebasket inside the doorway that was placed conveniently there for such things. In the middle of the stack of mail, there was an actual piece of mail that looked like a letter. The handwriting on it had a sort of strange writing on it. Some of the letters looked like the writing of friends that we still corresponded with in Austria. My heart leaped as I enjoyed anything from our homeland. I quickly turned the envelope over and tore it open. I unfolded the letter, and the first sentence hit me like a hot poker. I couldn’t read the next sentence or the next word. I fell over into the chair next to the doorway. It was as if my dream had suddenly just forced it’s way out of the recesses of my mind and grabbed me by the throat. How could this be? How could I have this dream only a little while ago and now my assailant was here again, but instead of a Luger, he had wielded a pen. My heart was racing instead of bleeding, but the mental pain was just as real as my dream. I opened the letter again, now that I was sitting down and began to read where my life had almost ended over 50 years ago.

“I never meant to pull the trigger. You have to believe me. I’m sorry Captain Von Trapp. If you will only let me explain why I am writing and why I never contacted you since that night you left Austria………”

Read Chapter 2

 

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